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Stormwall: Shady Dealings!

Young Jessa who was found looting in the crafters section by a group of Explorers. She'd lost her family during the final evacuations, as they were stubborn and had stayed in the city until the very end as some people are wont to do even when there is danger, and has been surviving on her own as best she can ever since. Part of that surviving was scouring through the rubble to see what goodies she could find in order to sell them to a rather unscrupulous trader for food goods. This particular trader doesn't care he's profiteering on items that might have survived the fire, as he believes he can make a killing on selling the looted items back to members of House Crovane.This news has moved to those with the authority to do something about it, and now it's time to hunt down this shady trader that wants to profit from the death others and the destruction of Stormwall for a noble cause. This plot is a spinoff from Stormwall: Searching the Rubble Part 1 - but is open to anyone on the grid who wishes to attend. It is open for up to 6 players. Please sign up at http://www.tiny.cc/explorerplots - under Stormwall: Shady Dealings!

Date

June 1, 2018, 8 p.m.

Hosted By

Lou

GM'd By

Lou

Participants

Barric Venturo Merek Valarian Paige(RIP)

Organizations

Location

Largesse Level

Small

Comments and Log


Some time ago, the Society of Explorers came to Stormwall to find heirlooms and artifacts that might have survived the Great Fires of Stormwall, the defense mechanism that was used in order to save the citizens of Arvum from a much larger force of the Gyre, this seeing to the city's destruction. What the first group of Explorers found was a young girl named Jessa, who'd been separated from her family and surviving on the streets. When they found her, she'd been clutching a haircomb in her hands, found in a nearby burned out shell of a jewelry store, and told a story of how she was trading items she found for food from one of the dealers who'd set up shop around the city, preying on the misfortune of those who lost all of their things in the fires that saved the people of the city. This group has been tasked with finding that dealer and dealing with him once and for all - either by chasing him off or turning him into the few authorities that might still be around, and have been given a map with which to get to the merchant section of the city unhindered by the debris. It is suspected that those going to the city to deal with this perpetrator might find the clues they need, or others who might still be scavenging the area in order to find this crooked trader. This group has permission of House Crovane to perform this task. As Barric and Valarian have both been to Stormwall before, they are both put in charge of this operation.

Barric checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 2 higher.

Having left his horse at the edge of the ruins to pick through to the merchant quarter of the city, Valarian gazes about the ruins to see who might be available to talk to, or if there is anything of note upon the ground that might interest the trader, thus giving them a reason to be asking to see him. "So...be careful, the ruins are given to collapsing and other fun things. Everyone, see if you can find something that we can offer as an item to the trader - not that we'll give it to him, but to give us a legitimate reason to be looking for him."

For all the world, Venturo looks like he blends in well with any other refugee, and it's only the fact that he is with the group that makes it clear he isn't, the fellow having taken no pains to fancy himself up for the outing. His pale green eyes survey the ruins, and it is Valarian's words that has a faint smile curling to the corners of his mouth, "I'm certain we can haggle with something." And it is people that the brewer looks for, looking for information within the streets itself rather than potential tracks on the ground.

Merek has come with the people that are dealing with the Merchant, and has on his cloak that is adjusted about him with the hood up. He seems to be relaxed as he walks along with the others, not really voicing anything for the moment as he does.

Paige looks exactly like what she is, a ranger, a Huntsman. Adjusting the cowl of her hood, she follows along behind those more personable than herself, letting them handle the talking while she provides eyes and ears. Scanning constantly for anything or anyone that's out of place in the city, she flicks a glance towards the trio she trails. She seems to finally have gotten that leather armor broken in, able to walk comfortably in it without creaking or making any undue sound.

Paige checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 27 higher.

Venturo checked perception + streetwise at difficulty 25, rolling 5 higher.

Merek checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 20 higher.

Valarian checked perception + streetwise at difficulty 25, rolling 5 lower.

The party has found their way to the merchant quarter and start looking through various areas. The shops are all there: the tailor's shop still looks unsteady, the jeweler's shop looks like it's been ransacked a few times, the forge is mostly in tact, but minus the tools, and the artists shop looks a bit worse for wear. They are all in varying states of disrepair, as this part of the city has yet to be cleaned up.

Paige checked intellect + investigation at difficulty 30, rolling 0 higher.

While Venturo keeps in sight of the others, he doesn't stick on them like glue, all the better so the man can blend in. Up a hand lifts to run through his hair, giving it an even further unkempt look. As it falls behind him, his fingers splay wide and curl in, as if to catch the attention of the others if they are looking, but true to his nature, the brewer lets luck decide it all as he heads towards a man on the street, "Hey," It's a near pleading expression as Venturo seeks to manipulate the man to draw out his intentions and get a bit of information, "have a friend in a real bad way, ain't ate in days, and I need to find food. You surely know someone, yeah?"

Having let Valarian lead the others into the merchant quarter, Barric had gone riding around the ruins of Stormwall looking for... something. It appears he has found something unsettling though as when he arrives back around to where the others are he has a frown on his face. Walking over towards Valarian, Barric looks towards any others who are sticking with the leader and gives them a grim nod. "There are several camps set up around the outside of the city. Every single one of them probably has a 'dealer' in it who is profiting off these people's misfortune. As soon as we engage with one, the others will probably get word and melt. This isn't a problem we're going to be able to deal with just us unless we do something silly like split up, or we get what's left of the local authorities involved to round up all of the traders in each camp." He pauses, then adds grimly, "Assuming they help, traders like these I'm told always are paying people to look the other way."

There is indeed a man walking down the street, and doing so in plain sight. He is of average weight and build, and appears to have dark brown hair. He seems startled to see Venturo approaching him, and he contemplates him a moment, putting a palm on his sword. He doesn't draw it, just waits to see what Venturo is going to do. When he mentions a friend in a real bad way, though, concern comes to his brow. "You do? Where?" He looks around. "Not in the tailor's building I hope? That place'll fall over the next good wind that comes through." He looks serious, and intent on helping as he picks up the pace a bit.

Valarian stands there with a vaguely disgruntled look upon his face, failing to have made any headway with the locals. But, he shrugs - then catches sight of what Venturo and that other man are doing, even if he cannot maybe hear from where he is at. Then Barric is bringing that rather ill news, an exhalation escaping from between his teeth. "Did each of the camps have guards? And I wonder if we can get ahold of some Crovane soldiers to help, that'd keep them from slinking away while we deal with one camp. Of course, provided they're not on the take. Yeah." Fingers running through his red beard, brows furrow. "Maybe if we can get in to see them, one at a time, and take them out silently..."

Meanwhile Paige sneaks across the marketplace, heading toward the tailor shop. Something catches her interests there. She makes it to the door without being seen. Inside she sees two people in the room, not just one. One is behind the counter, going through what might be left there, and the other is poking at some of the ash. They are quietly arguing over what they think might be left in the store, if anything at all, and whether they should check the basement in the store. The basement was never mentioned from the other party. The one behind the counter is a dark haired woman, while the other is a red haired woman. They are both young, probably around their twenties.

There is a moment that Venturo appears to freeze, warily watching the fellow when his hand goes to the pommel of that sword, but when the man speaks, a soft breath escapes from him, "You the authority, then? We heard there were bad sorts looking to take advantage of anyone hurt or hungry out here. Anything to make a profit." It's another dubious look he gives the man, before finally he gives a jerk of his head, "Don't have much choice, I suppose." It's down the street he begins to head, towards the general direction of Valarian and Barric.

Merek decides he will just observe for the time being while he looks around a little, and to the man then as Paige walks her own way. He relaxes a bit and just listens.

Paige moves carefully, watching where she steps as she approaches the young women, mindful of the creaks and groans of the building even as she moves deeper inside. "Mistresses.. I mean you no harm. I'm hoping to help, if you'll let me. And perhaps in return you'll be kind enough to answer some questions for me and my companions?" She darts a glance around to see if there's anyone else she might have missed in the deeper shadows of the tailor's shop.

"Makes it hard to figure out which one is the one they wanted is to deal with for sure." Barric says with a bit of a shrug before he looks over towards Merek, who is off doing his thing, and then Venturo as he comes walking back, "Where's Mistress Fieldstone?" He asks with some concern, "Shouldn't be alone in this place. If something happened without a buddy to get help..." His voice trails off, "From what we were told, it could be any of the dealers set up around the city, any encampment. We should try and get in touch with the local authorities and see what's what." He looks back to Valarian, "Agreed?"

Paige checked perception + survival at difficulty 25, rolling 19 higher.

Lou has rolled 1 100-sided dice: 21

Paige checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 25, rolling 17 higher.

The man nods to Venturo. "Guardsman Mac, at your service." He says this as he keeps walking along. "Heard about them trader sorts, and we're doing our best to combat them, but they're usually gone by the time we get to them. It's like they can smell us out or something." He frowns, "So, where is this hurt friend of yours?" he asks, as he continues to follow after Venturo. He seems to genuinely want to help.



Meanwhile Paige ends up startling the two women who were arguing in the tailor's shop. "By Petrichor's droopy balls!" the brown haired woman screams out, jumping up from behind the counter. She ends up knocking into the wall a bit and the building starts to shake - and it looks like it's starting to come down!

Lou has rolled 1 100-sided dice: 97

Lou has rolled 1 100-sided dice: 46

"Well, about that," Venturo offers up, giving Guardsman Mac a reassuring smile, "I'm with a group sent out to deal with those traders... well, one specifically. Can't be too careful out here, I'm sure you understand. Prince Barric and Master Harrow here will tell you more about the matter. This gentleman," the brewer's head dips towards the guard he is with, "Is one of the standup authorities here. Confident of it, sure he can be of help-" And then, there is a crumbling, shuddering noise, and around his head swivels to try and find the source.

It's kinda ironic that the dark-haired girl, the one who made the exclamation and started the building tumbling down is going to be the one who also gets out of the building. And, it's every man for himself! The red-haired girl is clearly in trouble. Paige is closest, and Merek's on his way to help. Those wanting to help should @check dexterity + athletics at 25 to try and help the red-haired girl. The black haired girl is running away, and looks to have something she found from behind the counter in her hands. @check dexterity + athletics at 20 to try and capture the black-haired girl. She's not as agile as she might think she is!

Paige checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 25, rolling 4 higher.

Merek checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 25, rolling 9 higher.

Merek takes off towards the building when he hears where the sound comes from. He knew Paige was there and its possible others were as well. As such, there's a shift of his cloak as he doesn't care about the guardsman much at the moment, instead focusing on getting to the two still inside as the other woman flees. "Come on follow me!" He exclaims, "Is there anyone else?" he asks, as he starts to move back and show a path.

Barric checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 20, rolling 49 higher.

Lou GM Roll checked dexterity(3) + dodge(1) at difficulty 20, rolling 1 higher.

Sidestepping a chunk of falling ceiling, Paige is quick to twist around to avoid the start of what might just bring the building down. She sees the dark-haired girl make it out and instead looks to the redhead. Seeing her in trouble, she reaches out and hauls the girl out of the way fo the falling debris, pushing her towards Merek and calling out, "Go, go! There's nobody else!" And that's when the ceiling seems to want to come down, crumbling and sagging towards the ground before starting to break apart from the middle outward. Cursing under her breath, Paige lets instinct take over, muscle memory jerking her out of the way of falling chunks of wood and stone, herding smith-knight and the redheaded girl out of the crumbling building.

"Absolutely, I am of agreement that we ought to look for the authorities..." But that's all Valarian has time to get out before running after Barric, glancing over at the collapsing building before squinting and cursing at the runner for making him have to dash through rubble, eyes squinting and looking over at Venturo, then returning back over to them since he seems to have found someone in authority. Perhaps.

Hearing the building shift and start to collapse is distracting, Barric was about to speak to Venturo and 'Guardsman Mac' after taking the time to try and see if this Guardsman looked even remotely official. Distractions being what they are though Barric doesn't hesitate, he just runs towards the building. There are times when wearing steel is bad, and leather is better. This is one of those times. When he sees the figure fleeing from the crumbling building and carrying something he looks torn for a moment but then nods to Merek when the knight goes to help, "Good man." He compliments before focusing on the runner and catching up with speed. The Prince apparently has nothing but time to work out and keep in shape! Damned royals.

Guardsman Mac is not the most agile of guards. And so, it's almost like slow motion when he turns around and reaches out toward the building that's falling down and goes, "Noooo!" Not that his shout would make anything better. And the the black-haired girl comes running out, and others are running inside to rescue the red-haired girl, and, well... slow motion. He stares, dumbfounded. And finally shakes himself out of it. "Is everyone alright?" he asks.



Meanwhile, back at the tailor shop, Red is saved! Through a combination of teamwork, they are able to not only get her out of the building safely, but also get away from it a safe distance themselves as everything comes crashing down with a resounding BOOM! If there was anyone else in the area seeking to scavenge stuff, they are long gone now.



And then there's the thunk, thunk, thunk of Barric's armor as he goes running down the street. He reaches out and grabs the black-haired woman's arm before she has a chance to get away, in spite of her best efforts to put obstacles between them. "Let me go you brute! Help! Help!" she calls out, using the object in her hand to beat on Barric's arm.

Venturo, meanwhile, doesn't run. The others have quickly dealt with what needs to be done, and so the brewer doesn't allow himself to be distracted too much as he steps off to one side of the city. His full focus instead drifts between 'Guardsman Mac' and the streets, seeing if all of the commotion has brought out any unsavory sorts. Only then does he start to head back towards the group to listen to the aftermath of what the dark haired woman has to say now that she is caught.

"Relax and be still. I'm not going to hurt you." Barric tells the dark haired woman, trying to pull her back towards the others and Guardsman Mac. When she starts going to beat at him with whatever the object she found is he tries to grab both her arms to hold her steady and still, "Quit it." He snaps, after all, hitting steel armor is not the way to keep most things in good condition, or not make a racket. "I just want some information." Hopefully he can get her calmed down enough to stop getting hit at and get her over towards the 'Guardsman'

Merek is satisfied with the woman safe, and moves towards the others. He relaxes a bit and lets Paige handle things from there while he watches Barric and also the other woman that was with them.

Now that they've cleared the building, Paige coughs out a few breaths to clear her lungs even as she realizes the ringing in her ears isn't entirely from the building collapsing. Seeing Barric collaring the dark-haired girl, she's quick to step up and put a firm but gentle hand on the redhead's arm to try and persuade her, nonverbally, from running. In the very next breath, in fact, she looks towards the redhead and murmurs, "Was there anyone in the basement? We can still try to get to them if there is. There might be less debris around the edges if we can clear a doorway..." She trails off but keeps her eyes on the redhead.

Casually wandering over to Venturo and Mac, his hand remains away from the hilt of his sword, and Valarian nosily listens in on their conversation, trying to pick up on what's been said and how this guy can be of use. "You one of the authorities around here? Who do you work for?" Running fingers through his hair, attention focused on him carefully, looking to see if he has any symbol of authority upon him.

Guardsman Mac stands up tall when everyone keeps questioning his credentials. Sure, he's not dressed in a uniform, but all of his clothing was burned down dammit! He puffs his chest out a bit and says, "I'm a vassal of House Crovane, sworn to protect them. I'd show a badge, but it's down there somewhere." He points toward the nearly completely destroyed section of the commoner's area. The armor that he wears is normal leather, nothing fancy, and his clothing looks a little worse for wear. He moves closer to the group as the women are brought together. "Cap'n will want to talk to these two when you're done questioning em. He's a bit mad at everything going on in Stormwall. Bad enough our homes were destroyed, what with dealing with people trying to steal our stuff and selling it."



Red does not resist Paige moving her towards the other. Rather, she trembles a bit under her hand. She's not carrying anything extra, and looks a bit distraught. She whispers to Paige, "I was almost killed. Thank you for saving me. What did you want to know?" At least she seems to be cooperative!



"I swear if you don't let me go you brute, I'm gonna pound ya!" And, the black haired woman does not settle down right away. Rather, she tries to kick Barric in the shin the moment that he tries to grab hold of both of her arms to steady her. What she succeeds in doing is hurting her toes against his steel armor, and she ends up hopping up and down on one foot yelling, "Ow!"

"My name," Barric begins to the black haired woman, "Is Prince Barric," Then there is the clang as she kicks his well armored shin, "Grayson." He says seriously, "You just assaulted the Sword of Bastion." He says with a smirk and then shakes his head to carry her over towards Mac and the others if he has to. He really doesn't want to, but he will! "Now calm yourself." He tries again, more calmly himself, "Before you hurt yourself. Please."

After Mac the Man gets done telling everyone just what the deal is with him, Venturo gives a firm nod of agreement towards Barric and Valarian. If he isn't a real, true to life honest and upright guardsman, he sure has Venturo fooled! "Are we just going to try and find the one fellow we are after, or, well, as many as we can?" And then Barric is bringing the dark haired, combative woman over towards him, and once more there might be one or two white lies in there, "Oooooohh, assault? Of a prince and a sword? During times like this? Well," It's a meaningful look he gives towards Barric and Mac, trying to at least make the woman feel as if she has someone on her side, and a potential way out of her trouble, "Surely if she cooperates there will be leniancy in the matter?"

Offering a reassuring smile to the redhead woman, Paige murmurs, "What's your name? And what's going on here? Why would you steal from others just as bad off as you are? I know things are bleak right now, but you have options, Mistress." She glances towards the dark-haired girl with a faintly amused cast to her features before looking back to the redhead girl. "Can you name some names? Tell us where to find these 'dealers'? If you help us, I'm certain we can help you, too. Perhaps you can come back to Arx with us and we can settle you into the Crovane household until the city is properly rebuilt?"

Nodding at Mac afterwards, feeling like he doesn't need to question the guardsman any further, Valarian gives him a bright grin and offers a hand for the shaking. "Hey, pleasure to meet you, Mac. Just had to check, can't be too careful. Do you have a superior officer we could talk to, perhaps? We might have need of a few of you for..." With a wave, "...things." A smile to the red haired woman of comfort, and a slow shake of his head at the black haired one. "Hey, calm down. We're not going to hurt you. If you need food or something, I have some back on my horse at the edge of the city. Just relax, okay?"

Venturo checked charm + manipulation at difficulty 15, rolling 31 higher.

Red looks at Paige, and the bottom of her lip quivers a bit. "Name's Kestra," she offers, and upon hearing the Prince's comments her companion, her eyes widen a bit. "Genna, you just kicked a prince!" she sounds exasperated. "I told you no good would come of looking through things up here!" She leans in a bit closer to Paige, as if she might be able to offer her some protection. She gives everyone an apologetic look. "There's folks here with food that are only selling it if we bring stuff to them. Stuff we find from the fires. Folk need to eat. I've a baby sister running around her somewhere, but I haven't managed to find her for sometime. I came to look for her. Genna wanted something to trade."



The brute is a prince? Assault? Genna's eyes go large at this, and she lets up a bit at trying to hit and smack on him. How is she to know someone dressed up in steel armor is a prince? "Kestra!" she hisses. "Be quiet. You don't know what you're talking about." Yet, she still grips the item in her hands she found, looking ready to try to smack Barric with it if he gets uppity with her or something. She gives him a side-eye. "Really, leniency?" she asks.



Mac glances to Venturo. "Well, we're trying to find everyone we can, sure. But for every person we seem to put away, or ban from our lands, two more pop up. Though, lately -- it's been getting better. I think we're close to finding their leader." He looks over at the girls and asks, "Think they can help?" He looks to Valarian. "Cap'n went back to the big city for supplies for the guards. He'll be backin a few days, but we can keep them both locked up and well fed during that time. Assuming they cooperate." He eyes both girls.

"We'll need to deal with them all at once." Barric tells Mac, and everyone else, pushing Genna towards the guardsman gently enough so she doesn't get thrown to the ground. "Don't know why I decided to wear my steel today..." He mutters to himself, "But all the gryphons and the tabard? Maybe an idea." He taps the tabard on his chest. With a shake of his head he continues on his first train of thought. "If we don't then someone else will just take up the position that is made vacant."

Venturo offers a small dip of his head towards the black haired lady, a flicker of his eyes towards Valarian to see if he can't take that bait and coax some information out of her now that she's interested. "Were I the tricksy sort," the man offers, now looking towards the others, "I'd say we track down the leader, capture him. If there is a /leader/, the others will want to take over once he has been caught. Plant the word of a gathering taking place for the traders to convene, and take only your most trusted guards," It's an apologetic glance towards Mac at the implication that some of his fellow guardsmen may not be as on the up as he is, "and round up as many of them as show up."

Merek looks to those talking, and offers a wave towards Kestra, Mac, and also Genna. He then adjusts his cloak as he considers things, "Why were you all in such a building to begin with?" he asks, frowning,

Merek says, "It would likely be hardly the place to be safe."

"What do you have there, Genna? Maybe I can pay you for it? I don't mind, I'll return it to the Crovanes. So, let's see. I promise, I won't take it from you. And I have food!" Waggling his eyebrows at that tempting offer of silver and food, Valarian leans against some rubble. "And yeah, I think we should snag the leader if we can't get enough people to hit all of the camps at once. I still think trying to get in there may help..."

Mac looks a bit dubious. "Most people are guarding the supplies for rebuilding the city. You want us to take people off that to find one or two traders? What about the supplies," he asks. "I mean, I can ask, but not sure if they'll let a ton of people go to hit the camps."



Genna now turns to look at Valarian. Her expression is distrusting, but that's to be expected. "It's mine. You can't have it!" she exclaims. It's a 2 foot tube that's about 2 inches in diameter. It possibly holds something inside of it. She looks like she might use it on Valarian next, now that she's been pressed into Mac's steady grip. Her eyes shifty dart between each person there, and she shoots Kestra a dark look.



Kestra withers under Genna's glare, and now starts hiding behind Paige. "Leo might have promised to help her find her family if she brought him stuff. She's got a brother that's missing too. He's been promising people all over the city that he'll help them, but I haven't seen any help come yet." If she won't help you, I'll point out his camp to you." And with that she stops cowering, having decidedly made up her mind.

"Leader first. And if we can figure out a way to get all the shady folks to come to us afterwards? It'll be the best bet to round them all up, I think." It's a hapless shrug Venturo offers to Valarian, before a slow breath out is pushed. Paige gets a warm smile, as does Kestra as he speaks up, "Thank you for your help. If you can point it out? I'm sure we can make sure he won't be scamming anyone else again."

Paige gives Kestra a warm smile and murmurs, "Thank you, Mistress Kestra. Perhaps we can help you find your sister and get you both somewhere a little safer for the time being." Looking towards Genna, she lifts a brow towards the dark-haired girl, "There's still time, Genna. Help us and we can help you. You have a brother out there, we can help you find him. But you'll have to give that back to whoever it belongs to." She nods to the tube in Genna's hands.

Digging around in his pockets and showing handfuls of silver, Valarian shows it to Genna - but then spying that tube, his eyebrows furrowed. "Oh, what's that there, then. Go ahead and hit me with it and I'll grab it. Go right ahead. But, as Paige here says, and Venturo, we can help her, to be sure. We did find a young girl last time we were up here and brought her back to Arx for her safety. Maybe it is her?" Describing the girl that was found up there before, he gazes at Genna and Kestra afterwards. "That sound like her? If so, then we just need to find her brother, and then take this guy out."

Kestra shakes her head, saying. "My sister is a bit younger than that." And her lower lip trembles again. "But I'll take you to him, just because it's been months and months and he keeps promising."



When the offer of help comes, that seems to melt Genna's crusty exterior a bit. "For real? You'll help? Not just promise, and then make us do something more?" she asks. "Or, to make us pay you for the food you got?" And, for a moment, a longing hope touches her eyes, but it quickly disappears as she steels herself against what could be just more lies. Reluctantly she passes the tube over, and if one were to look at it, there is a cap that comes off.



Mac frowns a bit. "Well, if we know where the leader is, we could probably provide a bit more help to get the rest." He presses his lips together, and then nods his head. "Yes, I think we cna provide that extra help, and in finding him, we'll definitely get the location of the others from him, or where they like to hide when we try to come after them." He seems certain of that!

Merek looks to the others for a moment and nods to them as he takes his time to follow along. For the moment he is not doing much, just observing while they move.

"Yes, for real help. Nothing needed in return." Venturo's head dips towards Genna, letting Valarian take the tube if he so wishes while the man's pale green eyes sweep around to Merek and Paige and Mac. "Sounds like we have a plan then, yes? Go and confront this fellow. Hopeflly he'll have a bit of information on your sister as well. How far is it to his area?"

Nodding, Paige takes the tube from Genna and smiles at her, "We'll help. And no, you won't have to pay for the food. I'll go out and hutn down a deer or soem rabbits if I have to, but we'll make sure you get fed." Looking to Mac, she gives a nod, "That would be great. And maybe we can leave you folks some extra funds or some of our supplies after. Or if anyone wants to come back to Arx with us, we can help you get settled in the city until your homes are rebuilt." Looking to Venturo, she gives a nod, flashing a brief grin and offering, "If he tries to run, I'll put an arrow into his knee. Won't kill him, but he won't be running anywhere anytime soon."

Taking the tube to unscrew the cap, Valarian peers within it while murmuring to Kestra, "Good. We'll make sure he gets what he deserves." Smiling a Genna then, he gives the poor refugee a comforting look. "I promise, no payment for the food. And if you'd like, we'll take you back to Arx. Failing that, certainly into the care of the Crovanes. And have this." He dumps two handfuls of silver into her hands, then digs around in the pocket of his cloak, finding a carefully wrapped up package of crusty rolls with some butter slathered on them, offering them to her as well. "Not like I'm gonna need to eat before I get back to the horses." Valarian, being a resourceful mercenary, knows you always keep food on yourself, especially if, unlike Paige, you cannot hunt. With a decisive gesture to Mac, "Let's find the leader then, and then we'll get the rest. Genna, Kestra...where is this bast...unkind fellow?"

Lou drops Waterfall in Winter, a medium painting.

Lou drops Waterfall in Spring, a medium painting.

Lou drops Waterfall in Summer, a medium painting.

Lou drops Waterfall in Fall, a medium painting.

Lou drops Upon a Painted Sky, a large painting.

Valarian picks up Waterfall in Spring, a medium painting.

Valarian picks up Waterfall in Summer, a medium painting.

Valarian picks up Waterfall in Fall, a medium painting.

Valarian picks up Upon a Painted Sky, a large painting.

Valarian picks up Waterfall in Winter, a medium painting.

Both girls seem much more cooperative now that there's promises of aid. /Real/ promises of aid. They lead the group around to a trading camp not far from where the Explorers set up camp previously. Once there, though, they refuse to go inside -- afraid of what might happen if they are discovered. Meanwhile, Mac goes for reinforcements, and everyone meets back up. A plan is formed to best lure him out, involving the girls -- and the tube of paintings, which can be easily replaced with pieces of blank parchment instead. A ruse, to give Leo something he thinks he wants, but without actually giving it to him. "So, you guys got anything, or am I just wasting my time?" he asks, now that the party is face to face with him.

"Yeah, I do. Found this tube...there's paintings in it. Maybe you like art enough to give me a handful of food?" Passing it over to him with the cap on veeeeeery tightly, Valarian waits for him to try to open the thing up, glancing around to see what guards are around, if any. His eyes flit from Venturo, to Paige, to Merek with a signal to be ready. By twitching his brows. That's the kind of signal he'd give, of course.

Venturo stands idly by, looking over this or that, for all the world appearing quite hungry and putting on a good show. Bit by bit the man seeks to get a bit further around the edges to circle around, just in case the fellow thinks to take flight, waiting for the now blank parchment paintings to be uncovered and the trap sprung!

"Yeah, sure thing. Is that all you want though? Food?" Leo asks, tilting his head. "I got people that can get you anything you want." He starts to try and open the tube, but is having a bit of difficulty with the cap.

"There's also a young girl and boy we're looking for..." Assuming he got the descriptions from the girls, Valarian waits for a reaction, hand subtly coming down to rest on the hilt of his sword, preparing to whip it out and beat the scumbag down with the pommel. Since he has to be taken alive and all that.

Paige sidles in a little closer as Leo struggles with the cap, leaning towards him as if inspecting the cap, murmuring, "There's a really pretty one in there of the sky with all these amazing colors.. and a quartet of waterfall pictures, one of each season..." She glances towards Venturo and Valarian, then looks back to Leo.

"Them kids? Feh. Probably long gone by now." Leo responds, jerking his finger behind him. "Probably up and ran away, they did. Though, there's a cute couple of girls looking for em too. Why ya want to know?" he asks, getting suspicious, as he looks around at all the new people standing before him and his wares.

Merek looks to a ring that is settled upon the table and picks it up while he looks at it and takes his time to smooth it a bit. He doesn't seem to be taking off with it, instead after a bit he looks to Leo then to the ring and considers the thing.

"Them kids? Feh. Probably long gone by now." Leo responds, jerking his finger behind him. "Probably up and ran away, they did. Though, there's a cute couple of girls looking for em too. Why ya want to know?" he asks, getting suspicious, as he looks around at all the new people standing before him and his wares.

"Because finding them might be the only way," Now Venturo glances to Valarian, a faint nod to let the man know to prepare himself, the same look cast to Paige and Merek as well as the brewer seeks to paint a bleak picture for Leo that it would be far better to surrender. "you'll avoid the guardsmen hanging noose. They are rounding up all your compatriots as we speak, and you are next. Question is if you'll be wise about going easy and telling us what you know or not. My friends here were quite looking forward to putting various sharp things in parts of you."

Perhaps a bit on the shady side himself, but certainly not the sort to advocate for exploiting children or young girls, Valarian's red brows suddenly knit inwards. "Alright. Why do I want to know? Because I want to help those girls out with finding those kids. And...oh look...no one to stop me from skewering you through the neck if you fail to answer!" At that, Valarian quickly whips his warblade out of its scabbard, attempting to smash the pommel square into the man's temple with a glance at Venturo. "He needs a bit of hurting first. Life or death is the next choice."

Even as Leo starts looking flighty, Paige is moving. The moment he looks to bolt, she's on his heels and reaching out to grab a fistful of shirt. Yanking hard, she jerks him back, catching hold of his arm with her free hand. Gripping just above the wrist, she jerks his arm behind his back and yanks UP sharply, just shy of dislocating his shoulder. The other hand is quick to grip the opposite shoulder, turning him right back around and back towards the group. "You're going to tell us where the kids are, or I'm going to hold onto you while they take turns finding different ways to make you hurt," its whispered harshly into his ear as Paige force-marches him back towards Valarian, Venturo, and Merek.

"Gah!!! Ah Ah Ah Ah!!" Leo screams out when Paige grabs him mid-about-to-bolt! "Get off me lady!" he yells at her. "I ain't got the damn kids. Don't even know where they are. I just made excuses to get them girls to keep bringing stuff to me." Using them, in fact, like Kestra feared. "Never even seen them." The more she pushes his arm back the more he screams. "Really, I don't know!" He looks over at the men. "Get her offa me, she's crazy!" The guard comes in not too long after Paige makes sure to capture him. Mac is with them. "We managed to get two or three others," he tells them, looking over at Leo. "Is that him

?"

"... Well," Merek speaks as he notices that they are already going for the man. He then looks at the ring and holds it up, "This ring has been scavenged and resold, from the look of the craftsmanship, actually it belongs to a noble family." He won't say how he really knows of course, and his experience as a smith makes sense.

"Yes, that's him...although he claims to not know anything about where the kids are. Was using the hopes of the other two to keep them going and digging things out for him," Valarian notes with a frown of disapproval, still wanting to whack the guy in the head, but...now the authorities are here. Grumbling, he just pokes the man with the end of his sword, right in the gut. "You ought to be killed for doing that, hopefully the Crovanes will hang you if you can't come up with anything on those kids."

Leo glances over at Merek, exasperated. "I don't know everyone who brings me stuff. There's along line of people that do that. Some guy probably picked it up somew-" e sucks in a breath as Valarian starts poking at him with sword. He looks over imploringly at Mac. "You see that right? YOU SEE THAT?" Mac gives him a stoic look, and simply asks. "See what?" He nods to his guards, and they come to collect Leo. "Thank you for catching him. He's going to spend a good, long time in the interrogation rooms, I promise you." He offers everyone a faint smile. "I'll make sure to put in a good word for you with the Duke. It really was a big help."

Merek looks to the ring and nods a bit, "Well it is being returned," he states, while he doesn't get involved in the whole thing between the others. He won't participate, he has what he came here for, which was to assist others, and came back with even more. He also feels that this is a success for his first adventure as a member of the Explorers.



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